Monday, September 13, 2010

Nonviolence or reverence for life?

I was reading Osho last night and he was talking about nonviolence. He says some interesting things.

Nonviolence is a negative which makes violence a positive. What is nonviolence but no violence.

Osho says this is stupid. He says  it would be better said to call the idea "reverence for life." If a person has reverence for life they will act nonviolently. Violence just drops away.

Then he goes on to say that if a person has a reverence for life, first and foremost a person should revere their own life. This means the person would never allow anyone to hurt them. So, if a person hits you, don't turn your cheek as Jesus suggests because this only encourages the person to hit you again. Turning the other cheek encourages violence. Turning the other cheek is not nonviolent because it encourages violence. What the victim should do is check the violence being perpetrated against him/her. Checking this attack may involve hitting the other person back harder than they hit you.

Interesting idea, but nothing new. Eye for an eye but with a twist. The goal is not retribution but education. It is offensive defense if that makes any sense.

At any rate, I think Osho has it right. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Bullies have to be stood up to. Playing a victim with a bully only encourages more bullying.

The loving thing is to check the violent impulses of the other. There are many ways to do this, but if necessary physical force may have to be used in  a defensive/offensive way.

This use of force is in the service of life, to revere life, not to destroy it. Remember, the goal is self respect and education, not retribution and sadistic pleasure.


  1. Dave, thanks for this. It makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of people have been mislead with the eye for an eye and get them before they get you and might is right philosophies. However, to check violence with violence if necessary in the service of life sometimes is a necessary thing. Violent impulses have to be restrained and if not the perpetrator needs to learn that violence is unacceptable. It seems paradoxical but sometimes it takes violence in the service of life.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Keep up the good work on the UU A Way Of Life blog. I read it every time you post a new article and always learn something of value.

    Many blessings on your work!

  2. Great article. Thanks.


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